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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's Bike to Work Week

In all the hubbub leading to LIVESTRONG Day, it escaped me that it's the League of American Bicyclists' annual Bike to Work Week this week. I was a bad commuter today, but I had to drop off my front wheel from my favorite bike for a little work and go to my barber.

The wheel is out of true and is giving me a little feedback on rides along with nicking the sensor causing quiet clicking from the front fork on rides. I'm hoping the guys at the local shop can work their magic and get me rolling again because if they can't, it'll be another one in the books for expensive stupid mistakes. You see, like almost every wheelset I have ever had, this one had at least one wheel munched by my own stupidity.

Let's begin with my first geared bike, an old Trek 820 mountain bike. I bought it cheap from a friend in high school who was run over by a van and couldn't ride for quite a while. It served me well though an STP and many, many miles around the Willamette Valley. I rode that thing all over until I finally got a job in college and could afford a new, better-fitting mountain bike. After a training ride for the STP, I park my bike along a curb in the church parking lot, only to have the support van driver back over it, folding the rear wheel. Probably should have pulled it into the grass.

My second mountain bike, a Barracuda A2B, was a fun ride. It was small and agile, handled trails well and served as my first commuter. Problem with it was it stunk to ride it for long distances. It was just a bit small along the top tube for any kind of distance on the road. I used it to go back and forth to my old high school to borrow my parents' car for my part time job in college. (Thanks for loaning me the car!) I upgraded that bike as often as I could, putting v-brakes on it in one upgrade. I touched the brakes on the wet track at the school and folded the rear wheel like a cheap tent. Tacos are great for dinner, bad for bike wheels. I had to carry the bike the rest of the way to pick up the car and all the back to my dorm that day. My next paycheck went to a new upgrade - double-wall rims.

My first road bike, a '98 Klein Stage, was a used purchase shortly after I got married. (Thanks, honey!) I bought it used and rode it all over, rejuvenating my joy in the long distance ride. It carried me through the first LIVESTRONG Ride in 2005, almost took me through the first LIVESTRONG Challenge in 2006 save for a broken screw two days before the ride and is now a converted single speed. One trip to the in-laws' house, I put the front wheel in a fork mount on the car rack. Apparently, I didn't tighten the quick release well enough and their are no lawyer tabs on the old Yakima fork mounts. Somewhere between Salem and Portland, my front wheel left the rack. I had to buy a new front wheel in Olympia so I could ride. I started to have a bit of trouble with the rear wheel staying true after a couple of years. In 2005, I got a new Bontrager wheelset to replace the rear wheel and match it to the front.

I had upgraded the Stage a little, of course, and pulled its parts for the new-to-me Klein Aura XV. I got a the frame last Christmas off eBay along with a new crank. I built the bike up, rebuilding the bearings and filling in parts I didn't have. I love the ride, probably in part because I built it myself. On occasion I ride across the ferry and through the west hills to my parents' house and meet the girls over there for a little grandparent time. One time, I showered up over there and was going to toss the bike on the rack for the trip home. Learning from the previous lesson, I put the front wheel in the car. Only it didn't make it into the car before I got caught up getting the girls into their car seats. As the car rolled down the hill the front wheel got the business end of the car's rear wheel. Fortunately, it was only a small section caught under the wheel, but I think I'll be fighting with it to keep it true for the rest of its life.

Here's to hoping we can get a true front wheel tomorrow.

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